Residents of Okporenyi village in Bende Local Government Area of Abia State have been sleeping with one eye closed over fears of possible attack by Fulani herdsmen following a face-off between the community and the nomads.
The Fulani herdsmen were said to have threatened to attack the community if the people failed to produce the cows allegedly stolen by the villagers.
Tracing the genesis of the problem, a member of the village said that on Christmas Eve, a group of herdsmen suddenly showed up in the village, threatening to attack the villagers if they did not produce their missing cows.
According to the source, farmlands and valuable crops in the village have been destroyed by cows belonging to the Fulani herdsmen and despite complaints by the villagers, the cattle rearers refused to find an alternative means of feeding their cattle.
The source further said that the herdsmen later came to the village accompanied by some policemen, alleging that they were searching for one of their cattle rearers, said to be a little boy.
Speaking further, the source claimed that an attempt by one of the villagers, simply identified as Onyi, to exonerate the village from any involvement in the whereabouts of the allegedly missing boy, led to a face-off with one of the herdsmen, who inflicted a machete cut on his upper arm.
He said the villagers had been living in a state of fear of imminent raid by the herdsmen, who had been fingered in some attacks on communities in the Middle Belt as well as part of Enugu State in recent times over grazing land.
When contacted, the Abia Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Geoffrey Ogbonna, confirmed the incident but said, “Police are on top of the situation”.
Ogbonna, a DSP, said talks had been initiated with both parties with a view to resolving the face- off. He also assured the villagers of full protection of their lives and property but advised them against taking laws into their hands.